Tuomo Ruutu

Andrei Loktionov

Loktionov, Polak out for rest of Worlds

Calgary Flames forward Sven Baertschi isn’t the only early casualty in the 2014 World Championship. While Baertschi suffered a fractured rib, Carolina forward Andrei Loktionov and St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak are both out for the rest of the tournament with shoulder injuries, according to the IIHF.

Loktionov, who was playing for Russia, will be evaluated further in Switzerland. The exact severity of his injury isn’t known, but his left arm was seen in a sling, according to Sport-Express’ Slava Malamud.

The 23-year-old forward had seven goals and 22 points in 68 games with New Jersey and Carolina this season. He was traded to the Hurricanes as part of the deal that sent Tuomo Ruutu to the Devils and is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer.

Polak, 28, had 13 points and 71 penalty minutes in 72 games with the St. Louis Blues in 2013-14. The Czech Republic-native comes with a $2.75 million annual cap hit through the 2015-16 campaign.

‘Canes, Flames keep watch as Loktionov, Baertschi injured at Worlds

Sven Baertschi
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Tough opening day at the 2014 World Hockey Championships for a pair of young skaters.

Andrei Loktionov, Carolina’s pending RFA forward, suffered a shoulder injury while playing for Russia in an eventual 5-0 win over Switzerland. He was sent to local hospital for observation and his status for the remainder of the tournament is unknown.

Meanwhile, in the same game, Swiss forward Sven Baertschi — Calgary’s first-round pick (13th overall) at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — suffered what appeared to be a serious upper-body injury:

Loktionov, 23, was acquired by Carolina at the deadline as part of the Tuomo Ruutu-to-New Jersey deal and did well for the ‘Canes, scoring 10 points in 20 games while averaging over 14 minutes a night. As mentioned, he’s a pending RFA having played last season on a one-year, $725,000 deal.

Baertschi, 21, scored 11 points in 26 games for Calgary last year, splitting time between the Flames and their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. It was a tough year for him overall; after Brian Burke took over as club president, one of his first public remarks was to blast Baertschi and his lack of overall game.

“I’m not ready to quit on a young kid. I’m not ready to throw him under the bus here today and rip him, but I think you can tell from my comments that I see big holes and I see a lack of commitment that’s not going to get him anywhere in my books,” Burke said, per the Globe and Mail.

Devils grind out win against Capitals

Washington Capitals v New Jersey Devils
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The New Jersey Devils came into Friday’s game against the Washington Capitals a little light on forwards and only became more shorthanded as the contest went along, but they still found a way to grind out a 2-1 win.

The Devils didn’t take any chances with that tricky shootout business, either, winning it in regulation.

Alex Ovechkin opened up the scoring with an increasingly rare even-strength goal:

Tuomo Ruutu found the net to tie things up for the Devils later on:

Ryan Carter scored a beauty of a game-winner for the Devils:

Carter indicated that the Devils were outworked earlier in the contest, but eventually turned that tide against the Caps (who probably cringe on quitting/laziness-type narratives at this point).

With this victory, the Devils now have 82 standings points with five games left. Washington slides to 11th with 81 (and also five games remaining).

It was a great night in general for the Devils (and to some extent, the ninth-ranked Toronto Maple Leafs, who were idle), as the Chicago Blackhawks snagged a late regulation win against the Columbus Blue Jackets as well.

Much like the Devils and Capitals, the Blue Jackets only have five games left this season, although they’re still fairly comfortable with 85 standings points. (Again, things are rosier for the Maple Leafs, who have just four games left but 84 points).

Here’s how everything looks for the Devils, Capitals and other East squads:

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It might not be pretty as the Devils, Capitals and other East teams approach the final stretch, yet it may just come down to who is willing to fight through it. New Jersey was that team, at least tonight.

Devils’ Clowe leaves game against Panthers, reports he appeared dazed after hard hit

Columbus Blue Jackets v New Jersey Devils
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New Jersey Devils forward Ryane Clowe left Monday’s game against the Florida Panthers and did not return for the third period, the club announced via Twitter.

From NHL.com:

Clowe, who missed 32 games this season with a concussion, was rattled by Howden with 1:09 remaining in the second and the Devils holding a 4-3 lead. He appeared dazed by the hit while being looked over by trainers.

Clowe was having his most productive offensive game as a Devil with one goal and three points. In his absence, Devils coach Peter DeBoer has reinserted Tuomo Ruutu on the top line alongside center Travis Zajac and right wing Jaromir Jagr.

There was no update on Clowe following the game, as per Mike Morreale of NHL.com.

Click here for a link to see the hit from Panthers’ center Quinton Howden that knocked Clowe out of the game.

The 31-year-old Clowe returned from a concussion on Dec. 27. The initially suffered the injury in October, after taking an elbow to the head during a game against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Devils defeated the Panthers by a final score of 6-3, with Zajac scoring his first career hat trick.

East update: Leafs get another OT win to climb ranks

Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning
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With a little more than a month left in the 2013-14 regular season, the jostling for playoff positioning is only heating up, especially in the wide-open East. Here’s a recap of most of the conference’s work from Saturday, with only the Montreal Canadiens still in action (against the San Jose Sharks).

  • The Philadelphia Flyers almost added to their total of 11 comebacks from third-period deficits on Saturday, pushing the Toronto Maple Leafs to overtime. Joffrey Lupul gave the Buds a 4-3 OT win, however, leaving Toronto out of the wild card mix (at least as of tonight). Things look a little brighter for the Maple Leafs tonight.
  • Both Pekka Rinne and Sergei Bobrovsky were strong in their respective nets tonight, but Bob ended up getting a win as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Nashville Predators 1-0. Artem Anisimov was the game’s only goalscorer.
  • The Washington Capitals’ hopes looked dim, yet they scored three goals in a little less than five minutes to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2. Read more about that game here.
  • The New Jersey Devils held off a Carolina Hurricanes comeback to win 5-4 thanks to former Canes forward Tuomo Ruutu’s winner.
  • The Ottawa Senators enjoyed a nice game from Ales Hemsky to beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-3.
  • Above the bubble, the Boston Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in OT. Things have been going well for the B’s lately.
  • Again, the Habs are in action, but they’ll remain at least a point ahead of the Maple Leafs even if they lose in regulation tonight.

Here’s a look at the East from a conference standpoint (via NHL.com):

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And probably most interestingly, here’s a look from a wild card/divisional perspective (also via NHL.com):

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